CoastWord at Dunbar Sci-Fest 2014 - Review by Diane Wilsdon

Refresh Project: How do we create smoke free homes and spaces for our children? Telling the Story.....

We were promised an entertaining and thought provoking evening and that is exactly what we got. Dr Deborah Ritchie presented her research on the impact of smoking in the home on young children. Using devices that measured pollution levels in their homes they had worked with mums to discuss their results. I was shocked to learn that when someone had a cigarette levels could be twenty times the recommended safe amounts. Even more surprising to both the mums and myself was that the everyday things people do to try and mitigate the risks such as opening windows, smoking in another room or waiting until the children go to bed have little effect. However this wasn’t about blame, they recognised the love the mums had for their children and their desire to do the right thing combined with the difficulties of addiction, of the stresses of looking after toddlers and perhaps living in a flat with no back garden. The complexities of the research findings were beautifully represented in the stories by Hannah Lavery. ‘Robot Self’ was the touching voice of a little boy wanting to be stronger so he wouldn’t be affected by his dads smoking. The second story from a granddad who had always smoked and started off indignant at this limiting the time with his grandchildren was used by NHS Glasgow in conjunction with the local voluntary sector as a non threatening way of starting discussions around difficult issues. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I am now keen to find out more about the research techniques and the use of stories in my own work.